As springtime rapidly flows into summer, a lot of boaters are getting the fishing urge again. And the perennial question is—Where are they biting?
So we called old friend Lee Tolliver, longtime outdoor writer for the Virginian-Pilot and fishing and hunting blogger at leetolliveroutdoors.com.
As it turns out, Lee is seeing red … as in red drum. Tis the season for the drummers, also known locally as channel bass, to migrate into Chesapeake Bay and along the beaches of the coast.
Look for red drum in the breakers on the barrier islands and the shoals at the mouth of the Bay, Lee says. Red drum are hungry from their long migration north and everything from the smaller puppy drum to the 50-inch behemoths are biting. As a reminder: fishermen can take three fish a day, between 18 and 26 inches. On lighter tackle, the red drum will put up an enjoyable fight.
You can find them throughout the lower Bay, along the coast and in the three southside inlets, plus portions of the Elizabeth River.
Some of Lee’s other recommendations:
- Anglers working the inlets, backwaters around Oyster on the Eastern Shore, the Elizabeth and shallows around the Poquoson Flats and mouth of the York River also are finding increasing numbers of quality speckled trout. The fish never left the area, but didn’t cooperate greatly with colder water. With temps rising, catches are increasing.
- Flounder are becoming more available inside the lower bay and in the inlets, but the best location remains the backwaters of the Eastern Shore barrier islands.
- Black drum numbers continue to climb in and around Eastern Shore seaside inlets, with many of those fish moving to the islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel in the coming weeks.
- Anglers working the bottom for both species of drum should encounter the season’s first sheepshead in the coming weeks.
Just for fun, we asked Lee where he would go, given a nice day on the water. He said he’d head for the mouth of the Bay or up the coast, looking within 200 yards of the breakers for signs of the fish feeding. “When you see them massing as they feed, they’ll hit a beer can if you throw one at them, he said.
He also said he prefers to fish with medium spin tackle, looking for one of those 40-50 pounders. “It’s a good test of fishing, and I’m gonna release them anyway,” he said. “Fighting the good fight…that’s what it’s all about for me.”